• 'Basically, the old mate thinks we need another Stolen Generation.' (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
COMMENT | Do we try to help Alan Jones, or those who say he has nothing to be ashamed of?, writes NITV's Myles Morgan.
By
Myles Morgan

Source:
NITV News
16 Feb 2016 - 8:24 AM  UPDATED 16 Feb 2016 - 12:41 PM

COMMENT

My great-grandmother was lucky. Her two daughters weren't taken from her.

Muriel Amatto had left the Roseby Park Aborignal Mission just outside Nowra and lived, and worked as a cook at a local hotel with her girls (my grandmother and her sister).

In 1956, she got her dog tags (as many blackfellas called them). Technically known as a Certificate of Exemption, it allowed her the freedoms many non-Indigenous Australians enjoyed daily. More importantly, it meant the government could not remove her children under the Aborigines Protection Amending Act 1915. That legislation, that legal government policy, allowed for the state to 'remove' Aboriginal children under a broad interpretation of protecting their welfare, and without a need to prove it in court.

And so, my immediate family has no claim to that sorry club who call themselves the Stolen Generation.

But, thousands more in New South Wales and across Australia do. They have fathers, mothers, aunties, uncles, brothers and sisters who were affected by those racist, assimilationist policies. Those policies which undoubtedly did save a few children, but mostly severed connections to country and culture, and which are still being reconciled today.

It's no conspiracy. It isn't blackfellas telling tall stories or black-faced lies. It happened, it's in writing and there's no denying the harm it caused.

But enough of the history lesson.

You didn't come here to be told what we already know. We've come to discuss Alan Jones' latest contribution to civilised conversation in Australia.

Basically, the old mate thinks we need another Stolen Generation

His reasoning? Too many blackfellas on the grog and drugs.

And, while it's true that there are undoubtedly some Aboriginal, and non-Aboriginal children in this country being neglected at the moment, to somehow think calling for another Stolen Generation is just idiotic.

By the by, there are more Aboriginal children being taken away from their immediate families now than ever before (go learn yourself about that after you've read this). 

It's easy to get angry, to put it down to his 'Grumpy Old Manliness', or call him all the vile names he's already been called in the last 24 hours. But, that doesn't help us dust ourselves off from this latest clash of the so-called black armband and the white blindfold.

There are also the thousands who have signed a petition to have him taken off air.

There is opportunity here.

Because as offensive and tacky as his comments are, what's worse is the support he's getting online, in pubs and undoubtedly on talkback.

That attitude that he's telling like it is, that Australians have nothing to be ashamed of, that political correctness has gone mad, that Aboriginal people whinge about the past and everything else these days, that is what diminishes us all. Don't believe me? See for yourself. Go online and have a squizz at the comments on the reportage. It is that which must be overcome.

There are those, like fellow commentator Andrew Bolt, still waiting for a smoking gun which proves Aboriginal children were taken under intentionally racist policies. To his, and Alan Jones little club, we must now assume there are other Australians like listener ‘Dell’ who called Mr Jones’ program on Monday, and sparked this whole storm. To all of them, we owe a responsibility to bring them on this journey of reconciliation that can never truly be complete while there are those who say ‘no’.

Do we punish Alan Jones by taking him off air? Greater minds than me have tried already - and for a lot worse- but the old fella is still on the radio. I seriously doubt he'll get the flick, and it sends the wrong message anyway.

Alan Jones is in a privileged position, but it is a qualified privilege. He has a licence to facilitate robust debate. Some may even say to shock. But, it's not the Wild West. Like we call out casual racism and sexism on air, he can and should call out those who think a generation of Aboriginal children being taken from their families was a good idea.

It's not entirely taboo, but its validity isn't up for debate either. Just like questioning the Holocaust, or allowing homophobia, there are some viewpoints our broadcasters need to nip in the bud.

There are some narratives that need to be accepted - and this is one.

There is a lot to be proud of in this country, even in aspects of its treatment of our First Nations. But, like Alan Jones' dominance of the airwaves, calling ourselves Australian is a qualified privilege.

With that pride comes the necessary burden of acknowledging the Stolen Generations, and opening the hearts of those who try to deny it. Or worse, think it's a good idea to repeat. 

Myles Morgan is NITV's Political Reporter in Canberra.

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